Monday, November 14, 2016

Where Are You Going To Be Next Year?

For those looking forward to graduation in the Spring, it’s also time to look forward to the next year and figure out where we want to be in the Fall. Some are joining the workforce or using their degree to advance their careers, and some plan to continue their education. For those who are transferring it's time to start working on your college applications. From MTSU to Harvard, most colleges judge transfer applicants differently than freshmen, sometimes opening opportunities that may not have existed right out of high school. You’ve already proven that you can hack it in college, maybe even excel. The application process takes time, so it’s best to start early. Don’t wait until the middle of Spring semester to apply, competing with thousands of applications and possibly waiting until August to get word of where you’re going next. Take it step by step.

1. Figure out where you want to be, then go for it. Make a list of which colleges would fit you and your major best. If possible, visit the campuses and take a tour. Note that what they highlight in their pitch is probably the primary focus of the campus. You can get a feel for the atmosphere and if it’s something you think will fit you. Nail down your top choices.

2. Fill out the FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid.) You can add up to ten schools to the application. Start with your top school choice(s) and add a few for backup in case your circumstances change. You should fill out the FASFA even if you don’t think you qualify. Click here to understand why.

3. Fill out the applications. Many schools will ask for an essay of some type. If you start early enough you can give some time and thought to this task. Write it, polish it, then go back a few days later and polish it again. Ask your favorite English teacher(s) to look over it for mistakes and suggestions, or bring it to the Language Lab. It’s important that your essay is free of typos and spelling errors. Need more? Read "Everything You Need To Know About the College Essay".

4. You will need to send transcripts of all the schools you have attended from high school and beyond. This is another task that can take a few weeks: from filling out the forms, mailing them or bringing them to your alma mater’s office, to waiting for processing and shipping time.

5. You may be asked for letters of recommendation from your professors. Make sure to give them enough time to write something glowingly appropriate.

6. Will you be moving to student housing, a house, or apartment? Or are you staying put and commuting? It’s important to have at least an idea of your options for each college choice, and you will be asked when you fill out the FASFA.

Wherever you go from here, start working towards your future now! Tomorrow comes faster than you think.

I'm anxiously waiting
to hear from Tulane.
Where are you going?

Gaynell Buffinet Payne is a writer, single mother, and student at Volunteer State Community College. She also blogs for Vol State's Returning Adult Learners.

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